Ōrewa resident Bettina Brown, known as Betty, will be in good company when she celebrates her 100th birthday this month. Also marking their first century this year are the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Readers Digest.
Betty was born in the suburb of Herne Bay, Auckland, the eldest of three children. Her two younger siblings – Bruce and Maxwell – were life-long friends, but have both sadly pre-deceased her.
Her father Edwin (Ted) Sherlock was among the New Zealand troops to land at Gallipoli on the morning of 25 April 1915. When he recovered from the wounds he received during the Gallipoli campaign, he was sent to fight in the Battle of the Somme, where he was badly wounded. As a returning solider, he was able to apply for a government grant which helped him re-establish himself in New Zealand society.
Betty was raised in Westmere, educated at Bayfield Primary School and attended college at Seddon Tech in central Auckland. Her working career consisted of mostly clerical positions until she trained as a nurse at Auckland Hospital, near the end of World War II.
She married James (Jim) Brown when she was 23 and moved straight into the home that Jim built for them in New Lynn. There they raised their four children, who all still very involved with caring for their mother. They have gone on to bless her with 15 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren.
Along with raising her children and caring for her elderly mother, Betty supported her husband in the family business, Brown’s Brushware until his retirement. Jim died in 1999, leaving Betty to continue alone after 54 years of marriage.
She says living in Ōrewa was like coming home, as the Brown’s had a family bach at Tindall’s Bay Whangaparāoa for 35 years.
She is still living well in her independent apartment at Evelyn Page Retirement Village and would be the first to say, she never thought that she would reach this huge milestone.
Like so many others in retirement homes, the Covid lockdowns were tough for Betty, as she missed seeing her children in person.
But always a positive person, she kept herself active by doing telephone quizzes with them, talking on the phone each day and developing a taste for wordfinder.
“Being loved by your family and friends is always going to be the best birthday gift ever,” she says.
Betty counts her blessings in this regard and the strong support she has always had from her Baptist Church family over the years. She still regularly attends services at Ōrewa Baptist Church and is looking forward to a big family celebration on her 100th birthday in July.